“Foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. And as for you, the priests of Jehovah you will be called.”
1. What do some people think about foreigners? Why is it wrong to think this way?
AS WE discussed in the previous article, some do not like foreigners, or people who come from other countries. They may feel that they are better than foreigners. But it is unkind to think like that. No one is better than anyone else. The booklet The Races of Mankind states that people of different races are brothers, just as the Bible teaches. Even though brothers can be very different from one another, they are still brothers.
2, 3. How did Jehovah view the foreigners living in ancient Israel?
2 In Bible times, Jehovah God made a covenant, or promise, to make the Israelites his chosen people. Although they had a special relationship with Jehovah God, the Law required the Israelites to treat non-Israelites fairly and with respect. This is something that we too should do today. Christians must never be prejudiced against foreigners. Why? The apostle Peter said: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”
3 Foreigners in ancient Israel benefited from living there. Why? Because Jehovah accepted those who were foreigners. Later, the apostle Paul said about Jehovah: “Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of people of the nations? Yes, of people of the nations also.”
4. Why is no one considered a foreigner in “the Israel of God”?
4 After God made the new covenant with the congregation of anointed Christians, the literal nation of Israel no longer had a special relationship with him. Instead, the congregation of anointed Christians became “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) Paul explained that in this new nation, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all.” (Colossians 3:11) Because of this, no one would be considered a foreigner in the Christian congregation.
5, 6. (a) Why might some wonder about the meaning of Isaiah 61:5, 6? (b) Who are “the priests of Jehovah” and “the foreigners” mentioned by Isaiah? (c) In what way do “the priests of Jehovah” and “the foreigners” work together?
5 Some may wonder about what is described in Isaiah chapter 61, which contains a prophecy that is being fulfilled in the Christian congregation. Verse 6 of that chapter mentions some who will serve as “priests of Jehovah.” However, verse 5 mentions “foreigners” who would help and work with those “priests.” Why does it talk about “foreigners”?
The “other sheep” happily work with “the priests of Jehovah” in the preaching and teaching work
6 Those “priests of Jehovah” are the anointed Christians who receive “the first resurrection” and who “will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6) There are many other loyal Christians who hope to live in Paradise on earth. Those with this earthly hope work with and associate closely with those who will serve in heaven. Those with the earthly hope are not part of “the Israel of God,” but in a sense they are like foreigners. They happily work with “the priests of Jehovah” as “farmers” and “vinedressers” in the harvest. They help the anointed to bring honor to God by preaching and by teaching others the truth. Both the anointed and the “other sheep” teach people the truth and lovingly help them to live by it.
“TEMPORARY RESIDENTS” LIKE ABRAHAM
7. How are Christians today like Abraham and other faithful ones of Bible times?
7 As we learned in the previous article, true Christians are like foreigners because they are “temporary residents” in Satan’s wicked world. They are similar to Abraham and other faithful ones of Bible times who did not want to be part of Satan’s world and who lived as “strangers and temporary residents in the land.” (Hebrews 11:13) Whether we have the hope of living in heaven or on earth, we can have the special kind of relationship with Jehovah that Abraham had. The Bible writer James explains that “‘Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,’ and he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend.’”
We can have the special kind of relationship with Jehovah that Abraham had
8. What did Jehovah promise Abraham? How did Abraham feel about the promise?
8 God promised that all families of the earth would be blessed because of Abraham and his descendants. This promise was not just for one nation to be blessed. (Read Genesis 22:15-18.) Even though the promise would come true after Abraham died, he was confident that it would be fulfilled. For more than half of his life, Abraham and his family moved from place to place, and he never stopped being Jehovah’s friend.
9, 10. (a) How can we imitate Abraham? (b) What can we help people to do?
9 Even though Abraham did not know when Jehovah’s promise to him would come true, he continued to love and worship Jehovah. Because Abraham always remembered that he was a temporary resident, he did not live what people thought was a normal life for a permanent resident of the land. (Hebrews 11:14, 15) We need to follow Abraham’s example and live a simple life. We must not let ourselves think that owning many things, becoming well-known in the community, or having a good career is the most important thing in life. Why should we try to live what other people consider to be a normal life when this system of things will soon end? Why should we love the world when it is only temporary? Just as Abraham did, we are waiting for something much better than this world. We are willing to be patient and wait until God’s promises come true.
10 The blessings that God promised to give through Abraham and his descendants are still being offered to people of all nations today. The anointed “priests of Jehovah” and “the foreigners,” or other sheep, are telling people around the world in over 600 languages that God is inviting them to learn about these blessings.
LOVE PEOPLE OF ALL NATIONS
11. What did Solomon invite people of the nations to do?
11 When Solomon dedicated the temple to Jehovah in the year 1026 before Christ, he said a prayer that helps us to see Jehovah’s view of people of all nations. Solomon asked Jehovah to listen to the prayers of people of all nations who prayed toward the temple. This is one way they could benefit from the promise Jehovah made to Abraham. Solomon prayed: “Also to the foreigner, who is no part of your people Israel and who actually comes from a distant land by reason of your name (for they shall hear of your great name and of your strong hand and of your stretched-out arm), and he actually comes and prays toward this house, may you yourself listen from the heavens, your established place of dwelling, and you must do according to all that for which the foreigner calls to you; in order that all the peoples of the earth may get to know your name so as to fear you the same as your people Israel do.”
12. Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses like foreigners in the countries where they live?
12 A foreigner is a person who is visiting or living in a country that is not his own. Jehovah’s Witnesses are like foreigners. They live in many countries around the world, but they support only God’s Kingdom in heaven and its King, Jesus Christ. So they do not get involved with the politics in the countries where they live, even when others think that they should do so.
13. (a) In what way could we learn not to view a person as a foreigner? (b) How did Jehovah originally want all humans to view one another?
13 It is sometimes possible to see that others are foreigners because of the way they speak, the customs they follow, the way they look, or even the way they dress. But the things that make people of all nations alike are much more important than any of these differences. So when we learn not to think about the ways in which a person is different from us, we likely will not view him as a foreigner. If the whole earth had only one government or was only one country, then no one would be a foreigner. Jehovah originally wanted all humans to be one family under his rule. Will it ever be possible for people of all nations to stop viewing others as foreigners?
14, 15. What have Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group been able to do?
14 We live in a world where many people are selfish and think that their own nation is the best nation. But it is good to know that there are some who love people of all nations. Of course, it may take effort to change the way we think about other people. Ted Turner, who started the television network CNN, worked with talented people from around the world. He said: “I came to see those from other countries not as ‘foreigners,’ but as fellow citizens of the planet.” He made a rule that his employees were not allowed to use the word “foreign.” Instead, they were supposed to use the word “international.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate God’s way of thinking about all people from all nations
15 Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only group in the world who truly imitate God’s way of thinking about all people from all nations. They have learned to view people as Jehovah views them, and as a result, they have changed the way they think and feel about others. They do not hate people who come from other countries or think that foreigners cannot be trusted. Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy seeing the variety in people and the different abilities people have. Have you thought about how special it is that Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group can do this and how good it has been for all of us to change our thinking about others?
A WORLD WHERE NO ONE WILL BE A FOREIGNER
16, 17. What will life be like for you when Revelation 16:16 and Daniel 2:44 are fulfilled?
16 Soon all the nations will fight against God’s rulership at the battle of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-16) More than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Daniel foretold what would happen to human governments. He wrote: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
17 Think about what this will mean for you. Right now, we can all be considered foreigners, since the world is divided into different nations with boundaries. But after Armageddon, there will be no boundaries. And even though people will still be different from one another, this will show the wonderful variety God put in his creation. Because we have such a happy future, we should continue to do our best to praise and honor our Creator.
Do you look forward to a world without boundaries where no one will be a foreigner?
18. What example shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not think of one another as foreigners?
18 Is it really possible for people around the world not to view others as foreigners? We can be truly confident that this will happen. Even now, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not think of others as foreigners. For example, the work of several of the smaller branch offices was recently assigned to branch offices in other countries. The purpose of this was to make sure the preaching work is being done in the simplest way possible. (Matthew 24:14) These decisions were not based on the boundaries of the nations unless a law made it necessary to do so. Jesus Christ, the King of God’s Kingdom, is helping Jehovah’s Witnesses not to be divided by national boundaries. Soon, he will end all national boundaries when he completes “his conquest.”
19. What have Jehovah’s people been able to do because of the truth?
19 Jehovah’s Witnesses come from many nations and speak many languages. But they are united by the truth and will never become divided. (Read Zephaniah 3:9.) They are one international family. Even though they have to live in a wicked world right now, they do not become a part of it. The fact that this family is now united is proof that in the new world, no one will be a foreigner. Then everyone on earth will be happy to view people from all races and nationalities as brothers.